Federico Rampini Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

Europe and the Left: Conversation with Federico Rampini, West Coast and Pacific Rim Correspondent of La Repubblica; 9/25/02 by Harry Kreisler

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You've had a rather interesting mix in your background of somebody whose father was in the international civil service with regard to Europe, then studying Marxism, and then international relations. Looking back at your story, I'm curious what you see as useful intellectual tools or perspectives that you acquired in the course of your studies and your life's work? What do you see as future requirements for students to think about and approach this changing world, where the nation state may not [remain the same], where new transnational entities like the European Community might emerge, and where problems like terrorism might suddenly hit us in a totally unexpected way?

In my personal history, I was very fortunate to be raised in an international environment, and this was reflected in my education, because the kind of education I had in high school was very peculiar. You know, in Europe you still have national school systems, and the education is very much founded on national history, national cultures, and national values. Whereas, I was raised in an environment which was a mixed environment of Italian, French, German, and so my teachers in high school could not possibly teach me only Italian history nor only French or German history. So I had this very peculiar experience of being raised trying, from the beginning, to think out of the box of a nation state, and of a nation historical legacy.

Now, I think this is very important today for an American student, to be able to have an education based on history of not only of his own country, but of the world in itself. You cannot possibly study only the history of the United States. You have to study the interrelationship between the history of your country and other parts of the world.

If I might remember some of the aspects of my education where I still believe were very important, I think one should read again and again Karl Marx. I think it's really very interesting. I read, again, recently, some of the pages of the Communist Manifesto.. They sound so relevant, as if they were written about some of the aspects of globalization today, and the international economic crisis today. Especially, that capacity to use the two interdisciplinary tools of economic science and history is so beautiful, not only in Karl Marx, but also in a French historian like [Fernand] Braudel, who wrote a masterpiece on the history of the Mediterranean in the 14th and 15th century, as the first example of a global economy, the first case of globalization being the Mediterranean integrated economy at the end of the Middle Ages.

On that note, and with a lesson plan for students to prepare for the future, I want to thank you very much for coming over to Berkeley and sharing your insights about your own life and about the changes in Europe, and the convergence and the differences between Europe and the United States. Thank you very much.

Thank you for having me.

And thank you very much for joining us for this Conversation with History.

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